Would it be possible for researchers back-assign a DOI to an existing dataset they have rights to - where there is no permission to share it publically (privacy, organization proprietary, personnel to clean data...etc)?

This would at least allow tracking the same dataset usage across multiple papers (+ - stages of).

To clarify (30 Jan 2019): What I mean is for example there are many papers already published that use the same dataset. In some cases it is not possible to get rights to the dataset. However, at the very least I believe it is useful to back-assign a DOI to these datasets that would allow for people to track datasets across multiple papers, particularly in this age when we may inadvertently commit the sin of deriving effect sizes from the same population if the dataset being the same is not clear, as we sometimes may surmise where people who collected the data get authorship rights directly grandfathered in - but in cases where they are not we may not be able to tell that we are using repeat datasets!

One way to get around the fact that these datasets are not available on open access is to have, under their DOI, descriptions of items that are included, waves of collection, and sample size - these can generally be derived and gradually pieced together from past studies. It then becomes clearer for replication or es. estimation whether the re-analysis actually used the same parts of the dataset. For example using only wave-2 instead of both waves, and using depression from Beck's inventory rather than depression based on interview.

  • So, if this was possible, then who would be prepared to pay for that to be done for the historical stuff? Future data could have it completed as part of the submission.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 13:31
  • What do you mean by back-assign? Assigning a DOI to a previously used but not published dataset? Or a backdated DOI assignment?
    – Anyon
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 15:33

2 Answers 2


I think is to a certain degree possible. One can potentially put the dataset in a data repository that assigns DOIs to the dataset. Then the dataset can includes the links to the published article as references. DataCite DOIs have a mechanism to do this. One can look at the documentation in their website.

edit: Full disclosure, I work at DataCite as a developer.

  • 1
    Be alerted by their fee page
    – Nobody
    Commented Aug 29, 2020 at 9:14
  • 1
    @scaaahu The fee page is for the repositories themselves, not for the users of the repositories. I don't think any data repository (e.g. Zenodo, Figshare, etc) would charge users for for assigning DOIs.
    – kriztean
    Commented Aug 30, 2020 at 14:31

This reads like possible case for figshare which accepts many data formats (including images) or raw data, and offers you a doi easing citation by you and others, too. If the data qualify for academic research, storage of the first 5GB is granted for free.

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